Exams in Lockdown

by Morgan Morris, Third Year Biology and Geography Student

The academic year this time ended very differently for many of us students in St Andrews and from around the world. We suddenly had to leave our favourite little town in Fife, our friends, and our normal way of studying at university, while not knowing when we would be able to return; while for some it meant staying in town away from our families, as we decided it was safer to do so. This sudden lockdown due to COVID-19 meant our academic and social lives had to be moved online for the rest of the semester. With this move online, it meant that many assessments had to be alternated, while the exam diet had to be transformed so that those who had exams could sit them in the comfort of their own homes. This posed a multitude of challenges for many students; such as unreliable Wi-Fi, noisy siblings, plus an all-time low in motivational levels, amongst others. This didn’t stop students from trying their best. If you knew it was going to impact you negatively, then the University was there to support you every step of the way, as this was an unprecedented time for us all.

It was such a surreal and new experience for those of us who had to sit exams online. We have been so used to sitting our exams in controlled environments that the University assigned us, with all the rules that they entail. I sat both of my exams in my quiet living room looking over South Street, where I could vaguely hear daily life continue as I was frantically typing to complete the paper in the allotted time. Throughout the revision and exam period motivation was at an all-time low for me, but this didn’t stop me. To help boost my motivation, I ensured I went for my government-approved walk a day to one of our spectacular beaches, spoke with my friends over zoom, and baked with my flat mate so we could spill all of our worries to each other. These allowed for some structure and normality in this strange time.

On another note, it also meant that our celebrations finishing the academic year changed too. For fourth years this meant they couldn’t have their traditional senior soaking, and checking off the final things on their St Andrews bucket list they had never done. While for the rest of us it meant our celebrations would have to wait another year. However, this did not stop us from celebrating virtually. Many students seized the opportunity to hold online quizzes with their friends, even recruiting their parents to soak them in cold water to keep the tradition alive!

Now that we have completed the academic year, we are hopeful that we will be able to return to some normality when the new semester commences in September, but we are very aware that it will not be the same for some time to come. Many of us still do not know what we are doing this summer as many internships and jobs have been cancelled, but there have been many new opportunities that we can look forward to taking part in during this strange time. I hope to see you in September, St Andrews – I cannot wait for the day to come that we can all be back together again in our special town.

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